GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids, in partnership with Samaritas and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, completed a yearlong study of the economic impact of immigrants and refugees in West Michigan and released the report September 12.

There will also be two events – a breakfast for the business community and an afternoon event open to the public to learn more about the results of the study.

New Americans in Kent County: Gateways for Growth report by WZZM News on Scribd

The September 12 breakfast at the Goei Center was supported by Fifth Third Bank and Mercantile Bank. Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss will speak as will Joel Lautenbach, Samaritas Executive Director of Development and G4G coordinator, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce President Rick Baker, and West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Guillermo Cisneros and The Right Place Vice President Tim Mroz.

The community event takes place at Cesar E. Chavez School.

In 2016, foreign-born residents of Kent County contributed $3.3 billion to the county's GDP. The economic impact of immigrants and refugees in Kent County is vast and the community welcoming, creating an environment ripe for growth. The top five countries of origin for immigrants living in Kent County are Mexico, Guatemala, Vietnam, Bosnia and Canada. The report includes profiles of two Kent County immigrant business owners, one from Mexico and one from India.

The collaboration has been beneficial for all involved, with a shared vision for the local community.

Samaritas is Michigan's largest refugee resettlement agency, with a resettlement office in Grand Rapids. Refugees come to West Michigan from around the world and are not only hard-working and involved in community, they often become entrepreneurs and business owners who employ local residents and stimulate the economy.

Building on increasing demand from local government, business, and civic leaders who aim to develop concrete strategies to integrate immigrants and foster economic growth, New American Economy (NAE) and Welcoming America awarded Kent County and 24 other communities with Gateways for Growth awards in the second year of the initiative.

Launched in December 2015, the Gateways for Growth Challenge is a competitive opportunity for local communities to receive direct technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to develop multi-sector plans for integrating immigrants. New American Economy also provides tailored research on the contributions of immigrants and matching grants to select communities as part of the Challenge.

Kent County received the grant to facilitate the study because it demonstrated a strong commitment from local government, business and civil society partners to recognize and highlight the contributions immigrants are making – bolstering population growth, increasing the tax base, starting new businesses and creating jobs, and adding vibrancy and culture to our social fabric – and develop concrete strategies and recommendations to maximize these contributions.

Event details:

Business Breakfast

Date: September 12, 2018

Time: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Location: Goei Center, 818 Butterworth Street SW in Grand Rapids

RSVP by clicking here.

Community Event

Date: September 12, 2018

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Location: Cesar E. Chavez School, 1205 Grandville Ave SW in Grand Rapids

RSVP by clicking here.

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